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eris·​tic i-ˈri-stik How to pronounce eristic (audio)
variants or less commonly eristical
: characterized by disputatious and often subtle and specious reasoning
eristically adverb


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: a person devoted to logical disputation
: the art or practice of disputation and polemics

Did you know?

Eristic means "argumentative as well as logically invalid." Someone prone to eristic arguments probably causes a fair amount of strife amongst his or her conversational partners. It's no surprise, then, that the word traces its ancestry back to the Greek word for "strife." Eristic and the variant eristical come from the Greek word eristikos, meaning "fond of wrangling," from erizein, "to wrangle," and ultimately from eris, which means "strife." The adjective appeared in print in English in 1637. It was followed approximately 20 years later by the noun eristic, which refers to either a person who is skilled at debates based on formal logic or to the art or practice of argument.

Word History



Greek eristikos fond of wrangling, from erizein to wrangle, from eris strife

First Known Use


1637, in the meaning defined above


1659, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of eristic was in 1637


Dictionary Entries Near eristic

Cite this Entry

“Eristic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

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